strongloop stats

IBM, like every other major and minor tech vendor, wants a piece of the $19 trillion (or is it $11.1 trillion a year?) Internet of Things (IoT) market.

So it acquired San Mateo, Calif.-based StrongLoop last week and opened IBM Bluemix, its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering, to its developers. IBM also plans to incorporate "select cloud capabilities" from StrongLoop into the IBM IoT Foundation.

IoT Ambitions

Now, IBM has made some fairly awe-inspiring investments — even for the tech space — in IoT. It announced an integration with ARM earlier this month, expanding its IoT Foundation. In March, it established a specialized IoT unit under its wider analytics business.

It's investing $3 billion in the unit and hiring 2,000 workers to build out the business. But that's nothing compared to the $10 billion IBM has invested in IoT and analytics to date according to a Strategy Analytics report, IBM Takes Aim at IoT With Multi Billions Investment, or the additional 6 percent it will be investing each year going forward.

Compared to those initiatives, the StrongLoop deal is a micro-move at best, at least in dollar terms whatever they might have been (terms of the deal were not disclosed). But a look under StrongLoop's hood is very telling about IBM's determination to rule the IoT roost — and its now increased chances of doing so.

Look Who's Using Node.js

StrongLoop builds application development software using the open source JavaScript programming language Node.js. 

Software developers in turn use it to build applications using APIs that can be used for mobile, web-based and IoT applications. For the IoT in particular, Node and the Node ecosystem has been viewed for some time as the up-and-coming platform for the necessary back-end APIs because of its speed and scalability.

Indeed, LinkedIn recognized its value years ago and used it to build its mobile server. Airbnb, Pinterest, MapBox and Vimeo also use Node.js, according to Who's Using It. Uber, Groupon and PayPal have also said they are using it.

Perhaps what Node is best at is its efficiency in directing requests for data in large quantities at very fast speeds, Charles King, principal of Pund-IT, told CMSWire.  "Basically what Node allows developers to do is, write an application in, says JavaScript, and then have it run across eight or nine other OS as necessary."

As case in point, according to a blog post by Paul Nashawaty, director of product and solutions marketing strategy at Progress, is Wal-Mart. He wrote:

"On Thanksgiving weekend, Wal-Mart servers processed 1.5 billion requests a day. Seventy percent of them were delivered through mobile, powered by Node.js. Node.js offers the ability to handle enormous volumes of traffic because of how Node.js works, Wal-Mart needed this advantage to meet mobile demand. Going forward we will see more mobile applications powered by Node.js."

In a later post, Nashawaty wrote that:

"JavaScript technologies like Node.js help keep client-server chatter minimized so each of your servers can process as many requests as possible. Usage of node.js in particular increased by 241% in 2014, according to W3Techs Market Report. Highly trafficked sites like Groupon, OpenTable, YellowPages and Wal-Mart all rely on node.js for part or all of their websites or web app servicing."

Adding IBM to the Mix

Now IBM and its enormous financial resources is part of the mix.

With IBM at its back, development will ramp up, convincing enterprises that Node is not only here to stay but well positioned for the IoT, writes CEO Juan Carlos Soto in a blog post.

"Together, IBM and StrongLoop will bring to market a stream of innovative Java and Node solutions that enable companies to build a new generation of microservices and APIs that are both scalable and secure. It is these services and APIs that are powering the mobile and IoT initiatives at every enterprise in the midst of a digital transformation."